The Disappearance of Ralph Robbins (Massachusetts)

When Ralph Robbins went missing in 1993, his disappearance seemed to be forgotten almost as soon as it was reported. Now over 30 years later, his daughter is searching for answers, but more than anything, she wants closure.

If you have any information about the 1993 disappearance of Ralph “Roby” Robbins, please contact Massachusetts State Police Lt. Ann Marie Robertson at (508) 961-1918.

About Ralph “Roby” Robbins

Ralph Robbins, who went by Roby, never got angry. He was always a happy, playful guy. That’s the version his daughter Vicki remembers most.

“He was very outgoing, funny,” Vick began. “He was usually like the jokester of the family, and there was never really a dull moment with him around. We would have serious talks, like he did have a serious side, but I only have happy, funny memories of him. He was a pretty cool guy.”

Roby and Vicki’s mother were young when they had her and they didn’t stay together as a couple, but they did stay friends and co-parents. Vicki split her time between her mom’s house and her dad’s place in Taunton, Massachusetts whenever he wasn’t traveling for work. They made special memories as father and daughter. Roby was a member of the Wampanoag nation so when they were together he shared that with Vicki, as well as his love of motorcycles.

“And when I saw him, it would be sometimes every other weekend, it would just depend on where we were in our lives because he traveled a lot. But the times that we did have, we’d go to the Native American powwows or he’d take me for a ride on his motorcycle. We had a lot of one on one time,” Vicki explained.

She was always told that his traveling was because of his job as a commercial fisherman, but she didn’t really know details and she didn’t ask.

“You just know your dad’s working and that’s what he does,” she said.

Vicki doesn’t know much about her dad’s social life outside of the time they spent together. She never met his friends or co-workers. All in all, Roby was an involved, devoted father.

“It was just a good time,” she remembered. “It felt like we were always bonding. It was quality time. We had good, quality time.”

Vicki and her father were making plans for more good, quality time together in early September. She had no idea that an ordinary phone call one night would be the last time she ever spoke with her father.

The Day He Disappeared

Vicki was getting ready for bed at her mom’s house on September 1, 1993, when her dad called. He wanted to bring her shopping after school the following day.

“The last time I spoke to him was the night before he was supposed to pick me up. It was September 1st and as far as I know, I think I’m the last person that had known contact with him. But he called me maybe 8 or 9 o’clock before I was going to bed, and we had made plans for the next day. He was going to pick me up at 4 o’clock after school at my mom’s to go school shopping. And we said we love each other and talk to you tomorrow. And he was gonna call me before, when he was on his way,” Vicki recalled.

4 o’clock rolled around on September 2, and then 4:30 and 5 p.m. but Roby didn’t show up. He didn’t call, either. Vicki was just confused at first. He wasn’t an unreliable guy, especially not with her. She was 15-years old at the time, so old enough to work through some possible scenarios and cut her dad some slack if their plans had just slipped his mind or if something came up at the last minute.

She went to bed that night without hearing from her dad, still very confused, but not yet concerned. On the second day with no word from him, that’s when the panic set in. She started calling his apartment.

“The first week or so, there was just no answer,” Vicki continued, “And maybe after that, a roommate, his roommate would answer here and there and just would say, no, he’s not here.”

Being gone for longer stretches of time wasn’t out of character for Roby – he traveled for work all the time – but this was different. Vicki’s mother had a sense something weird was going on, too, but she didn’t say anything to Vicki about it at first. When they finally did talk about her dad, it was a conversation that confirmed Vicki’s worst fears.

“She sat down and talked to me,” Vicki remembers. “She had called my step-grandmother at the time to come over, and they sat me down and told me about the phone calls that they received, and that they don’t believe my dad’s coming back.” 

The story of Ralph “Roby” Robbins continues on Dark Downeast. Press play to hear the full episode wherever you get your podcasts.

Episode Source Material

  • Interview with Vicki Robbins, daughter of Ralph Robbins
  • The Charley Project: Ralph Everett Robbins
  • NamUs: Missing Person / NamUs #MP80890 Ralph Everett Robbins
  • Bristol County DA: Unsolved Missing Persons Cases
  • Commonwealth vs. Gordon O’Brien, Bristol County, 380 Mass. 719, March 3, 1980 – May 30, 1980
  • 4 charged in slaying likely to be asked about Caruana by Elizabeth Neuffer and Kevin Cullen, Boston Globe, 22 Aug 1990
  • Fall River hustler lived among toughs by Dave Crombie, Providence Journal, 23 Aug 1991
  • Taunton man faces drug charges by Karen Jeffrey, Cape Cod Times, 09 Sep 2000
  • Taunton man sentenced in island drug scheme by Karen Jeffrey, Cape Cod Times, 13 Dec 2001
  • Feds probe senior-run drug ring by John Doherty, The Standard-Times, 30 Jul 2003
  • New details in death of mobster by W. Zachary Malinowski, Providence Journal, 14 May 2010
  • Cold case breakthrough: DA’s office cracks notorious murder of Berkley professional gambler by Susannah Sudborough, Taunton Daily Gazette, 08 Mar 2021
  • Bristol County DA’s office cracks cold case of murder from nearly 30 years ago by Mark Gartsbeyn,, 09 Mar 2021
  • Vanished: Eerie evidence left behind in the disappearance of Taunton’s Ralph Robbins by TAMARA SACHARCZYK, NBC 10 NEWS, 23 Nov 2022